If you have arrived at the difficult decision to place your spouse in a long-term care facility you have only just begun to make the first of many difficult decisions. Once you have decided that your spouse does, indeed, need long-term care you then have to find the best facility for your spouse and figure out how to pay for his or her care. Although the quality of care is undoubtedly your number one concern, the cost of that care cannot be ignored. At an average yearly cost of over $80,000 it should be no surprise that over half of all seniors rely on the Medicaid program to help cover the cost of long-term care. Medicaid, however, has income and asset limits that cannot be exceeded by applicants. Moreover, you may be wondering what happens if you lose all of your spouse’s income? The good news is that the Medicaid spousal impoverishment rules will allow a community spouse (the spouse that does not need long-term care) a “maintenance allowance” which should help you cover at least your basic monthly expenses for things such as housing and food.
Medicaid is a federally funded and state administered health care program that provides coverage to low income families and individuals as well as to the elderly and disabled. Because neither Medicare nor most private health insurance policies will cover long-term care expenses, many seniors depend on Medicaid to help. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can be complicated. If you are married, Medicaid will look at income and resources for both you and your spouse when deciding if your spouse is eligible. Moreover, if your spouse is found eligible for Medicaid benefits, his or her monthly income will be required to be used to cover long-term care expenses first and then Medicaid will start helping. If you can show the Medicaid office that you rely on that income you may be allowed a “ maintenance allowance. ”
The amount you receive in your maintenance allowance depends on your income and expenses as well as your spouse’s. For example, if you have $2000 per month in income but your basic living expenses are $2800 per month Medicaid may give you $800 per month of your spouse’s income in the form of a maintenance allowance.
The best way to plan for the high cost of long-term care though is to include both long-term care planning and Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan early on in life. If you are suddenly in need of long-term care though, and you did not plan ahead, there may still be some Medicaid planning techniques you can use that will increase the odds of being accepted. Contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today to discuss your options.
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